A Brief History of Extreme Diets

Tapeworms, cotton balls, and cigarettes—not exactly the breakfast of champions, but at one point these (and a dozen other items) were featured ingredients in the craziest diet menus of all time.

See also the never-eat-again diet.

1820 The Vinegar Diet:
Popularized by Lord Byron, who reportedly subsisted on potatoes soaked in vinegar.

1900 Fletcherism:
Fans (including Henry James and Franz Kafka) chewed until all the "goodness" was extracted from food, then spit out the remains.

1900 The Tapeworm Diet:
Parasites were sold in pill form, intended to mature in your intestine and digest food before the body can.

Slide 2: Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Getty Images; Slide 3: Photo courtesy of Stephanie Gonot; Slide 4: Photo courtesy of Getty Images; Slide 5: Photo courtesy of Stephanie Gonot; Slide 6: Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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